Inspiring CEO, an incredible team, united by one vision. VCNC: possibly one of the most successful startups in Korea. Just like Jake, the CEO of VCNC, the company is incredibly, incredibly driven and passionate. I must say, it's not every day that you get to interview both the CEO and someone from within the company - and what integrity. I'm excited for things to come for this one - and you should be too.
Needless to say, at beLAUNCH2013, the Korean startup VCNC was showered with praises from the CEO of Evernote, Phil Libin. I got the opportunity to conduct a follow-up interview with Jake Park, the 29-year-old CEO of VCNC, a successful startup that created the app for couples, ‘Between’.
Jake has a certain composed magnetism about him that makes him incredibly compelling both as a CEO and as a person. He graduated from Seoul National University majoring in Business Administration and had “only just found out about the startup ecosystem when [he] was 23”. His dream was to enhance the quality of life of the people in the society through an IT product or service he developed. He was working at a company at that time and was thinking about getting a MBA or working at one of the big Korean conglomerate companies, but chose startups as his career path.
VCNC is a relatively young startup – but is one of the most successful ones in Korea. It was established around “2.5 years ago” but developed incredibly fast. VCNC started out with 5 co-founders, now they have more than 20 people on their team including a Japan office. As for their expansion to Japan, they are ‘just starting’ and are planning an extensive marketing strategy targeting female Japanese university students. His next plan after Korea and Japan is SE Asia.
But Jake is not satisfied or thinks of the startup as quite ‘successful’ yet. He described himself as ‘fortunate’ to have such great team of people who are inspired by one purpose.
Edward K. Lee, the Value Innovator for VCNC said that Jake is a “great team builder”, which he believes is “one of the most important virtues that a CEO/Founder should have”.
“I’ve been counting the number of heads in our office, and I think every member the right person in the right position. And if a member is going through some hiccups, Jake is great at sensing their needs and helping them to do the thing they feel most passionate about, which in the long term helps our company grow,” Edward began.
He continued: “[Jake] himself also adapts well to the position that our company needs him to be in, whether it is product development, business development, investment relations, marketing etc. We still have a long way to go, however, his leadership and insight has also guided our team/company to grow fast up to this stage.”
When I enquired whether there have been any changes in how they work, Edward replied: “there have been some changes in how we work inside of VCNC. When I first joined as the first employee, everything was shared by just shouting and gathering the guys in a couple of seconds. But, this is not the case right now. We have bigger teams and branches out of the country. So, we're developing our own process to make smoother discussions between teams. This is important because we should be sharing the same vision and aligning our steps to where we are heading. And so far, I think the process is going well.”
Edward and I both believe that this is because of the trust and respect that exists within the company. Members at VCNC are incredibly passionate about what they do.
“We've been seeing each other work and as I have been observing the characteristics of our members, and we have our own initiative in what we do and also have high standards in whatever we're up to. I think this built a foundation of trust inside VCNC. So when there is a task, we trust the person/people in charge of it. Even if he/she doesn't nail it the first time, we eventually know that he/she will.”
One thing that Jake said stayed with me for a long time even long after I conducted the interview. He said: “You have to be sure about the reasons why you’re starting a startup. You need to think about what effect it will have in the society.”